Thursday, April 21, 2016

Higher ed funding tomorrow?

Update: WSIU carries a story on the last-minute failure of the bill on Thursday, including a quote from Randy Dunn. 
The Senate and the House are scheduled to adjourn for a week after Friday's session. There is great pressure on them to get something done for higher education, particularly given that Chicago State will apparently shut down by the end of the month absent state funding.

The result was a crazy day at the capitol. A bill that would have authorized $600 million for higher education (enough to pay something like 30% of the FY 2016 allocation, plus some MAP funding) seemed on the verge of passing, and had the approval of the governor's office. Details are murky, but it looks like a bipartisan compromise worked out by rank and file GA members was shot down by the Democratic leadership (Madigan), at least for the moment, because Madigan was (a) attempting to get more money from Rauner? (b) perfectly willing to prolong the crisis in order to do so?  (c) unwilling to support anything Rauner would sign? The compromise bill had better be reconsidered today--if it isn't, the closure of CSU and massive cuts at other universities will rest  squarely on the Democrats. You'd think that would be enough to pressure them to pass something after today's debacle.

There are fairly clear summaries of where we stand tonight in the Tribune and the Daily Herald. Capitol Fax had a story that was updated updated several times during the day.

There were also votes on two of the more popular items in Rauner's Turnaround Agenda, redistricting and caps on property taxes. Both may be phony votes--i.e. votes intended to legislators on record as supporting a concept, but in a way which would either change little or nothing (the Raoul proposal for redistricting reform), or is guaranteed to go nowhere as it won't pass the other chamber. Rauner apparently won't accept the property tax bill as written because it won't allow local governments to opt out of the requirement that they pay "prevailing" (i.e., union) wages. Movements on items in Rauner's Turnaround Agenda may just be the democrats trying to look like they are open to negotiation, or could be steps to some sort of bipartisan agreement on the less radical of his proposals--something that could allow Rauner to declare victory and start governing.

There have also been votes on a progressive tax (i.e., a measure that would allow Illinois to tax high income earners at a higher rate than everyone else; our income tax is currently "flat" at 3.75% for everyone). As the Illinois Constitution currently calls for a flat tax, 3/5 votes in both houses would be required for a progressive tax to go to the voters in a referendum in November. A graduated tax could both lower taxes on the poorest and raise overall revenues by getting more from the wealthy.

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